Hamburg: An Assessment

2 Mar

So as I promised last time, I will tell ya’ll my experience in Hamburg.

It started on the afternoon, around 3 pm from my main station. It took an hour, more or less, to go there. So about 4 pm I arrived at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof (which literally means main station in German) and then take a quick city tour since the main station is located in the heart of Hamburg, i.e. the downtown area.

The atmosphere was great. It was just a normal weekend but I had no idea why the downtown, which is also a shopping area, was really packed. Maybe I have been used to living in suburban area, so this was kind of overwhelming at first. Moreover, Hamburg got my approval for being one of the most fashionable city in Germany (top 3, I think). I could see how people from various ages wore different kinds of long winter coats, sophisticated leather shoes/boots, and fancy hairstyles. Even at one point I felt I was under-dressed by wearing running shoes and standard winter jacket, but I dressed for comfy since it’s gonna be along day.

What I really love about Hamburg downtown is the buildings’ design. They all are old-style with ornaments and engravings. I can’t tell any more detail since I’m not really following the Europe history, so I can’t comment on, for example, what era it was build, etc. Also, usually Rathaus (City Hall) in cities will usually look very old, older than other buildings, so it has some historical value. I don’t know about the one in Hamburg because we couldn’t go in that time since it was Saturday and no activity existed there. Usually in Rathaus people do all administrative things, such as requesting city registration, marriage certificate, and applying for student visa for people like me.


I’ve attached a picture of me in front of the Rathaus so you can get the idea. As you can tell the building was very big and wide, even my picture can’t fit the whole building. To give you a better idea how big it is, estimate the distance from the end of the building ,which is the end closer to my side, to the center, which is the one that has a clock above it. That’s half of the total length of the Rathaus!! Even the Rathaus in Neumünster where I work now is not close to half of this one. That said, I feel amazed to see this wonderfully sized monument. Oh yeah, one more interesting fact: See the roof is green? Yes, it was a rust build-up. The roof is made out of copper, so when it rusts, it’s green-colored.

Also, the downtown area is very uniquely laid out. There was an end of a lake that makes half of a circle, and it is surrounded by buildings around it. The scene is very romantic, which again a label held by Hamburg: a romantic city.

I also ate at a restaurant/cafe on the lakeside. There were two unfortunate things for me to go there. First, it was really full that I didn’t get a table that viewed to the lake. Second, I came at the wrong time (aka winter) because during summer there are tables outside where the scene was quite awesome. Onto the story, I ate a sandwich there and relaxed for a bit. Oh by the way, I forgot to mention again that Hamburg is a port city, so as someone who grew up in a city of similar situation, it felt very comfortable to see water.. yeah water. It’s been a while since the last time I could see it.

Finally, after I got done with the cafe, I went to the Reeperbahn.

Oh I kept on saying “I” until now in my story, but I actually had a friend that accompanied me, so I’ll just change to “We.”

Okay, so it was around six or seven in the evening when I got to Reeperbahn. It was way too early to see the liveliness of this area, so we decided to just walk around and check out some places. Apparently my friend used to stay in Hamburg for a couple of months, and his apartment was about 2 blocks away from this place. I had no idea why he picked the place, but I guess it’s kind of cool, too, maybe he likes to party it up every weekend. =)

This place is really interesting. There are only 4 types of shops there: Adult-themed (from just selling adult materials to actually providing service), doner shop, bars or clubs, and convenience stores. What really caught my attention, though, is the police station on the area. Well, first of all, unlike other places in the world, prostitution is legal in Germany. What makes me feel weird is that I always think prostitutes shouldn’t be floating around on the streets (because it’s normally how it is) but here you can see guys negotiating with prostitutes and there are around four cops over-watching the area just on the corner of the block. I would love to get a picture of this, but I can’t. Prostitutes get offended with their privacy if they see someone taking pictures, even if the picture taker didn’t mean to take their pictures. It happened once when I walked around the corner. A prostitute was angry and yelled at a guy who was taking a picture with his camera. And I know cops don’t like to have their pictures taken by strangers. Sorry guys!

So, coming early to the area, we ended up going to an Irish bar. We got a glass of beer and stayed there for about an hour, and then went to eat doner. And then after that the night just went on. I went to different kind of bars, trying out different kind of beers. Not much to say from there. But there’s one more interesting piece I haven’t told you. 

This is the famous red light district. It’s covered with red wall to prevent people from taking a peek from outside. Also, those who are not allowed to go inside are kids (obviously) and women. First time I knew it, I had no idea why women can’t go there. It’s just a normal street, so why women get left out like that? I’ll tell you why after I explain what’s happening in there. Behind this red wall, it’s basically like a street mall. There are small stores with glass windows for display. What is displayed, however, is more than usual: girls with bikinis. Yup, you heard it right, they actually display girls for you to take home. When you walk on the street, the girls will knock on the window, open it, and then start talking to get your attention. And they do speak English. Maybe they saw that I don’t look like a German from any side, they called me, “Hey hey, come here, I have a good deal for you.” Good thing the street was just a small block, so I walked from one side to the other, and I didn’t want to hang out too long inside there, so I felt relieved once I went out from there. It was really fun to see it.

Now, as for why women can’t go in there, was a problem of business. The girls who are doing the job there don’t like to see a girl wandering around in front of them because they would think that the girl is trying to spy on them and create a challenge to threaten their job security. You know, think like Microsoft employee comes to Apple headquarter and wandering at the office. Something like that.

So there you go, folks! Hamburg, with its romance, scenery, liveliness, and craziness. Until next time,



One Response to “Hamburg: An Assessment”

  1. red light district March 3, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    That’s a nice summary of the Hamburg red light district. I must admit I have never been there but would like to see it some time. From what I gather, it doesn’t seem to be as large or popular as the red light district in Amsterdam.

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